It gets mighty tough to get out the door for a run at this time of year, so I challenge you to stare deep into your sticktuitiveness during the shortened days of winter.

I can tell you it gets mighty tough to get out the door for a run at this time of year. It seems as the available daylight wanes, so does motivation and desire. It is inevitable. And even the most diligent mileage hog will have those moments of “I’m really not in the mood today.”

Over 40+ years of running I’ve been asked, more times than I can recall, about the reasons that I run. My answers have ranged from “because I got cut from JV basketball” to “I don’t like to lose.” Your answer will differ slightly from anyone else’s answer, but we all probably have an answer. By the way, I’m really not going to tell you mine here… you’ll have to ask me.

So in 40 years, how many times have I retired? Actually, just once – in 1993. A few days after my grandmother had died, I headed out for a run, only to find that after about three minutes, I had absolutely zero motivation, energy and reason to keep going. It had nothing to do with my grandmother’s passing and it had everything to do with my sticktuitiveness being challenged.

My “retirement” lasted all of three days. My sticktuitiveness slowly returned and, as it had done so many times before. I strapped on the training shoes and headed out for a relaxed run. It turned out to be a GREAT run (and I know this because I keep pretty good training logs – got ‘em all dating back to the early ‘80s). During my 72-hour retirement, without a gold-watch party by the way, I gave my sticktuitiveness a major review and overhaul.

We all have days when we just can’t find the door or the desire. And those days are good. They test your sticktuitiveness to its utmost. My racing days hit one of those tests back in 1998, when after an eight-year period of personal bests, fast times, and top finishes, I seemingly couldn’t get out of my own way. I wasn’t on the verge of retiring, but I was on the verge of another shift. Looking back today, those days, much like the 1993 retirement, were good.

In 2006 I had another challenge, this time due to injuries and surgery. I missed eight months of running and really struggled with “what kind of a runner will I be when I get back?” Now THAT was a tough question to ponder for eight months. By the way, I knew I’d be back. Thank you, sticktuitiveness.

Today, “Me” in my mid-50s really appreciates the challenge and periodic review of my reasons why I’m out on the roads, tracks and trails in the first place. Otherwise, bad history is bound to repeat itself and good history, especially for athletes, is somewhat unsustainable and most likely will lead to bad history.

So I challenge you to stare deep into your sticktuitiveness during the shortened days of winter and take the challenge of seeking reason, and adjust it appropriately. As I’ve already mentioned, we all have an answer. Some of us are just better at stating it than others. Once you understand the reasons why (and honestly, it ain’t really anybody else’s business other than yours), your sticktuitiveness may be challenged from time to time, but it will never be beaten. But if it is, I will try my best to be at the party.

I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails in 2019 and beyond!

Former standout Lock Haven University runner Andy Shearer is a member of the Middletown Athletic Club, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club and USA Track and Field.